Wednesdependents’ Day – ‘I don’t feel at home in this world anymore’

Originally published Apr. 19th, 2017 on thedistantcloseup.com

Sometimes, people are just assholes. It’s unfortunately an inescapable aspect of life as we often experience it when we’re out and about, listening to music or even watching T.V. – and sometimes certain notable personalities aren’t fired from their jobs for being a certain sort of chronic asshole. We do the best we can to accommodate even a modest form relief into our busy schedules, but sadly nothing is guaranteed, even when we actively take steps to do something about it. In these circumstances, we might wish we could be just like Ruth Kimke from Netflix’s new original film, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Picked up by the streaming service, as well as making its premiere at Sundance, actor turned writer-director Macon Blair’s first feature depicts Ruth (Melanie Lynsky), a depressed woman whose recently burglarized home gives her the necessary spark to embark on a hunt for the thieves. Teaming up with her eccentric, morning star-wielding neighbor (Elijah Wood), the pair’s adventure leads them down a rabbit hole they couldn’t have imagined, realizing it wasn’t just a simple theft.

Winning the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. dramatic competition, the film has all of the hallmarks for a cult classic in the making. It proudly embraces genre conventions while sending up its fair share, has consistent laughs and contains an escalated final act you aren’t likely to forget. Of the handfuls of indie crowd-pleasers we receive in a given year, Blair’s film is undoubtedly one of the more memorable examples in recent seasons, partially thanks to its well-cast and matched protagonists and effectively amiable leads.

Recalling Bobcat Goldthwait’s self-serving exploitation failure God Bless America in terms of plot, but almost especially character, Lynsky’s Ruth has had enough. Unlike Joel Murray’s Frank from the aforementioned film, however, she doesn’t embody any basic standard of humanity, torch-bearing martyr qualities and is, instead, allowed to be imperfect – human, you might even call her. Wise enough to avoid a ‘holier than thou’ archetype, Blair gives her further depth than most cult movie heroes, as we empathize with her frustrations regardless of whether or not they’re justified. Equal praise should go to Lynsky, as well, for expertly accessing the simultaneous melancholy, rage and hidden joy that makes her character as relatable as she is flawed.

And even though he may often feel like the stereotypical nutty sidekick, Wood’s Tony is lifted by his equally constant verve and sense of fanboy wish-fulfillment. Fortunately, though, the film doesn’t always reduce him for comic relief’s sake, and is even sometimes the vessel through which Ruth finds a deeper understanding of herself. Considering Wood’s steady transition from hobbit to nerd culture poster boy, this is a role we would have expected of him, but we’re fully satisfied by his competent portrayal, nonetheless, as Tony is a microcosm for the midnight movie spirit.

Viewers will delight in the film’s progressive undercurrent, as well. Though not a central aspect to the narrative, the film finds a solid chunk of its core depicting the various dynamics and norms brought on by misogyny. Ruth is no stranger to sexist microaggressions, and they serve their part in her final deciding to stand up against the rot of basic decency. The film even gives us a taste of slightly darkened humor overturning trophy wife tropes, but most importantly, the film itself is a refreshing change of pace considering how male figures and heroes dominate midnight movie circles. Ruth isn’t some horror flick ‘final girl’ who’s an idealistic model of perfection; she’s flawed, but still unyielding – bent, but never broken.

I don’t feel at home in this world anymore is the next movie you show to friends, guaranteeing them they’ll experience the same amount of delight as you had. The film plays fast and loose with its indie trappings, but not its intellect, and anyone who engages with it ought to have a similar mentality. It’ll warm the cockles of your heart as much as it makes you giggle and shout with rapturous glee.

4/5

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